Monday, November 29, 2004

Mike's Fallujah Report

First off, I'd just like to say thanks for all the kind words and overwhelming show of support. I appreciate it, and I'm sure Mike does as well. I received numerous emails about his letter, and as you may have guessed from many of the comments- there were plenty of questions. I can't answer every individual email right away, but I'll address the most common questions in this post.

How can we link to Mike's photo site?

The short answer is "I don't know." I don't know Mike (at least I don't think I know him). I just know that he's in Fallujah as a member of TF 2-7 CAV. I received his email through my West Point distro list. It appeared that he wanted to get a message out to the people (and I did receive it through a public distro list), so I decided to post it. I sent an email back through the channels from which it came, and I offered to post any future messages as well as a link to his photo site. I haven't heard anything back from him, so we'll see what happens. Maybe he'll start his own blog! Or maybe he'll decide he's too busy to focus on anything other than his mission at hand. It's his call, and I'm sure you'll all support whatever decision he makes. Stay tooned...

Why haven't we heard anything about the insurgents' use of hard drugs from the MSM or official Pentagon press releases?

The only answer I can offer is that Mike's email was simply his own account of what he saw. I don't doubt that those marines found what he claims they found. But it's way too early to say that all the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq are fueling up with crack and/or heroine. Perhaps what the marines found came from a small contingent of misguided insurgent teenagers. Perhaps his (or his intel officer's) assessment was off- maybe the insurgents were selling the stuff to finance the insurgency. It's hard to say. When you're that close to the fight, you sometimes draw conclusions without benefit of having the "big picture." I was "off target" about quite a few things while I was "doing my thing" in Mosul.

In any case, the Army won't release any statements accusing the insurgents of "fighting under the influence" until they have more conclusive evidence. If they were to base such a claim from one person's report (or even one unit's report), it would be unconfirmed propaganda- and we don't do that. We studied the chemical lab discovery for several days before releasing any press reports. I can only guess that the MSM would wait for an official military press release before reporting a "drug story," but then again- I've never known the MSM to be all that concerned about spreading propaganda...

Bottom line- this was a "field report"- give it time. Let the hard facts come out as they develop.

Once again, thanks for all the kind comments and emails. I will do my very best to answer each email during the next few days...

Secret Weapon

This is an important story- U.S. Sends in Secret Weapon: Saddam's Old Commandos:

"All of them were previously officers in the Iraqi army or special forces," the Scorpions' commander, Colonel Salaam Trad, said at the Marines' Kalsu base near Iskandariya on Saturday.

"But Saddam was dirty and no good for Iraq."

Iraqi police here have stuck to their posts despite killings of comrades in bomb attacks and murders of off-duty officers: " They don't cut and run, despite their losses," Johnson said.

As for Colonel Salaam, a small, wiry man of 32, he shrugs off insurgent threats to himself and his family and says what he wants is: "Freedom, a new Iraq, peace."

Another voice from Iraq's silent majority.

Quothe Zarqawi: "This Bites!"

Not sure how much press this picked up, but I think Zarqawi's latest statement tells us a lot about how he's feeling these days:

The world's most dangerous terrorist, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, announced on Wednesday that the battle of Fallujah was a massive defeat for the Iraqi insurgency, blaming the debacle on Sunni Muslim clerics who failed to support his reign of terror.

"Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence," Zarqawi said in an audiotape posted on an Islamic Web site known as al-Qala'a, which has been a mailbox for Islamic militant groups.

That's probably because they know that the infidels are not "slaughtering hundreds of thousands" of Iraqis as he claims. The infidels are, in fact, systematically destroying and detaining thousands of Zarqawi's followers. There's a big difference. Someone should remind Zarqawi that Al Jazeera no longer has a monopoly on the Iraqi market. Zarqawi had better get used to the silence. With each passing day- Iraq finds itself closer to elections, freedom, and prosperity. The silence is about to become deafening.

How's Things in Iran These Days?

General Abizaid gave the Iranian government some friendly advice:

"Why the Iranians would want to move against us in an overt manner that would cause us to use our air or naval power against them would be beyond me."

"We can generate more military power per square inch than anybody else on Earth, and everybody knows it."

and in two related stories:

Iran Says It's Ready to Help Iraq on Border Security

Iran Makes Key Nuclear Concession in EU Talks

And Last But Certainly Not Least

Please read this article about Pat Tillman. I don't care what anyone says- he's Sportsman of the Year. I think you can still vote for him as the fans' choice.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Letter from Fallujah

"Upon the fields of friendly strife, are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory" -Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the importance of having a sports program at West Point.

Mike was a baseball player at West Point. Now he's an Army officer serving in Task Force 2-7 CAV. His email came to me through the West Point distro list. It's long- but well worth a read:


Well Task Force 2-7 Cav made it back from Fallujah earlier than expected, mission accomplished. It feels so good to be back from a second successful mission that was as difficult as it was dangerous.

We left Camp Cooke on Nov 1 and staged at Camp Fallujah for about a week. While there, we got the good news that George Bush was re-elected and we had busy days and nights of planning and rehearsals for the big attack.

2 days before "D Day," a 122 mm rocket impacted 50 meters away from our tents that sent everyone to the floor. We staged there at a remote part of the post and it was obvious that a local national tipped off the "mujahadin" (Arabic name for the enemy) where we staged. From that attack, we lost one soldier and 4 more were wounded. That attack gave the rest of the Task Force enough anger to last the whole fight.

After all the drills and rehearsals, the day for the attack finally came on Nov 8. Prime Minister Allawi gave the green light and Coalition and Iraqi forces went all the way. On Nov 7, a battalion of Marines seized the peninsula to the west of the city to prevent insurgents from fleeing. A brigade (4,000 soldiers) from the First Cav set up another cordon around the city to catch anyone fleeing. The plan was to make sure the insurgents would either surrender or fight and be killed. Intelligence estimates put the enemy between 3,000 - 5,000 strong, so we knew we had a tough fight ahead of us.

One of the interesting factors to this fight was the weather... although Iraq is unbelievably hot in the summer (up to 130 in Najaf), it was colder out in Fallujah than it was back in New York. Temperatures were typically in the upper-30's and low 40's between 5 pm and 8 am. The averagetemperature here has dropped about 30 degrees in the past month or so.

We moved all of our vehicles and soldiers from Camp Fallujah to a position about 1 mile north of the city. That's also where we set up our TF support area (re-fuel, re-arm) and where we set up the Tactical Operations Center. All day long while were setting up at that location, Air Force and Marine Corps aviators shaped the battlefield with laser-guided bombs and hellfire missiles. Although American forces had not been into the city since April, we had been collecting intelligence on the city for months through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's), human intelligence, and Special Forces. So we knew exactly where they stored their weapons and where they held meetings, and so on...all of these attacks from the air were precise and very effective in reducing the enemy's ability to fight us before thebattle even started.

With each attack, secondary explosions of weapons/ammo blowing up were heard. The Coalition also threw the enemy a curveball by destroying all the vehicles that had been parked in the same location for more than 3 days---the enemy planned to use these as car bombs when we attacked. Again, almost every single vehicle the air assets attacked had huge secondary explosions.

After 12 hours of massive air strikes, Task Force 2-7 got the green light and was the first unit to enter the city. There is a big train station on the city's northern limit, so the engineers cleared a path with some serious explosives and our tanks led the way. While this was happening, my intelligence shop was flying our own UAV to determine where the enemy was. It is a very small plane that is launched by being thrown into the air. We flew it for 6 hours and reported grids to the tanks and bradleys of where we saw insurgents on the roof and moving in the street---so our soldiers knew where the enemy was, before they even got to the location.

We crossed the train station just before midnight and led the way for the Marines by killing everything we could in our way. It took our tanks and brads until 10 am the next day to get 2 miles into the city. They killed about 200 insurgents in the process and softened the enemy for the Marines. 5 of our soldiers were wounded in this first 10 hours, but we accomplished our part of the plan.

The Marines' mission was to follow TF 2-7 and fight the enemy by clearing from building to building. A lot of the insurgents saw the armored vehicles and hid. They waited for the Marines to come and took their chances by fighting them since the Marines weren't protected by armor like we were. In that first day of fighting, the Marines took 5 x KIA and many more wounded, but they also did their job very well. Along the way, they found HUGE caches of weapons, suicide vests, and many foreign fighters. They also found unbelievable amounts of drugs, mostly heroin, speed, and cocaine. It turns out, the enemy drugged themselves up to give them the "courage" and stupidity to stay and fight.

The enemy tried to fight us in "the city of mosques" as dirty as they could. They fired from the steeples of the mosques and the mosques themselves. They faked being hurt and then threw grenades at soldiers when they approached to give medical treatment. They waived surrender flags, only to shoot at our forces 20 seconds later when they approached to accept their surrender.

The next few days, TF 2-7 maintained our battle positions inside the city, coming out only for fuel and more ammo. We fought 24 hours a day and continued to support the Marines as they cleared from house to house. If they were taking heavy fire or RPG fire from a house, they would call on our tanks. Our guys would open up on the house with 120 mm main gun or .50 cal. After 5 minutes of suppressive fire, the Marines would go into the building and clear it. There was rarely anyone left alive by that point. The problem is that we couldn't be there to do that for all the Marines- and when we couldn't and they had to clear the building without our help, they took heavy casualties because the insurgents didn't stop firing until the Marines got into the building and killed them.

After 3 days, half of the city had been cleared and Iraqi Forces followed the Marines to re-clear the buildings and clean up the caches. Sometimes the insurgents who had managed to hide from the Marines would stand and fight the Iraqis, so they took some casualties as well. But they did a good job of securing the area and collecting the thousands of AK-47s,RPGs, mortars, and IEDs that were in these houses. All that ammo proved just how intensely the enemy planned to defend the city after all, Fallujah was the symbol of the resistance against the new Iraqi government. They wanted to keep their safe haven for terrorists like Zarqawi to behead innocent people. Since no Coalition Forces were allowed into the city, they were able to get away with those atrocious acts without much trouble.

On day 3 of the fight, we had the most exciting moment for me personally when our Task Force Support Area and TOC came under attack. Insurgents fired mortars and rockets at us everyday, some landing as close as 30 meters from us. But on this day at 6 pm, just as it was getting dark, we took 3 rounds very close and then to the north 8-10 insurgents opened up with small arms fire on the TOC. Luckily, a tank platoon was back re-fueling and along with the scout platoon, laid down some serious firepower and killed them all in a matter of 5 minutes. But all of us in the TOC got to go out and be part of the fight, firing rounds and seeing the tanks unload on these insurgents. None of us were hurt, but it was an exciting 10 minutes.

THEN came the second push through the rest of the city. Although by day 4, the Coalition had already killed over a thousand, many of them fled to the southern portion of the city and took up positions there. Again, Task Force 2-7 led the push a little before midnight. Same mission, same purpose: To soften up enemy strong points and kill as many insurgents as possible to enable the Marines to follow us when the sun rose. The Marines from Regimental Combat Team 1 did just that for the next 5 days---fighting house to house, finding more weapons, more torture chambers, more ammunition, and more insurgents ready to fight to the death.

One fighter came running out of a building that our tanks set on fire...he was on fire and still shooting at us. As our Sergeant Major said, "going up against tanks and brads with an AK-47, you have to admire their effort!"

Over the next 5 days, the Marines and our Task Force killed over 1,000 more insurgents. In that time frame, over 900 more fighters made the decision to spend 30 years in prison rather than die. The Marines are still occupying the city and helping with the rebuilding process---they still meet some sporadic resistance, usually a group of 3-5, shooting from a mosque or faking surrender and then shooting at them.

We were very disturbed to find one house with 5 foreigners with bullets in their head, killed execution style. Marines also came upon a house where an Iraqi soldier in the Iraqi National Guard had been shackled to the wall for 11 days and was left there to die. These insurgents are some sick people and Fallujah proved that more than ever. 2 mosques were not being used for prayer...but rather for roadside bomb making. They were literally IED assembly line factories, with hundreds of IEDs complete or being built. They also had several houses with high-tech equipment where they conducted their meetings.

In Fallujah, the enemy had a military-type planning system going on. Some of the fighters were wearing body armor and kevlars, just like we do. Soldiers took fire from heavy machine guns (.50 cal) and came across the dead bodies of fighters from Chechnya, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Afghanistan, and so, this was not just a city of pissed off Iraqis, mad at the Coalition for forcing Saddam out of power. It was a city full of people from all over the Middle East whose sole mission in life was to kill Americans. Problem for them is that they were in the wrong city in November 2004.

Now that it's over, there is a lot of things that people back home should know. First of all, every citizen of Fallujah (non-insurgent) is getting $2,500 USD (that's a lot over here) to fix up their house or buy new things that may have been destroyed in the fighting. Insurgents took up positions in resident's houses so we were forced to destroy a lot of buildings.

There is over $100 million dollars ready to be spent to re-build the city. This may seem like a lot of money, but I can assure you that it is a small price to pay for the amount of evil people no longer alive, contemplating how to kill more Americans. The intelligence value alone is already paying huge dividends. Some of the 900 detainees are telling everything they know about other insurgents. And the enemy never expected such a large or powerful attack and they were so overwhelmed that they left behind all kinds of things, including books with names of other foreign fighters, where their money and weapons come from, etc.

I went into the city 3 times, but after a lot of the fighting had been done. It was amazing to see how the American military had brought the world's most evil city to its knees. I have an awful lot of pictures that I am going to upload to my webshots will blow your mind to see what the insurgents forced us to do to win this fight. And seeing the pictures of what I saw first hand will make you very happy to be an American and know that our country has this might if evildoers force us to use it.

Our mission in Iraq is to help the Iraqi Security Forces become stable enough to keep this country safe...and once in a while fight with our full might to give these security forces a fair chance. When we need to go after the enemy with all we've got, the results have been amazing.

In the fight for Fallujah, our military lost over 50 soldiers and Marines including a sergeant major, company commander, and 8 platoon leaders- along with 40 young enlisted guys, typically between 19 and 23 years old.

I can't even tell you how proud I was to be part of this fight and know these soldiers who were going from building to building to take the fight to the enemy. My Task Force lost 2 more soldiers after the rocket attack at Camp Fallujah, 1 of them that I knew pretty well. It was hard on the unit to deal with these losses, to go along with the 16 soldiers from 2-7 who were wounded. But this was a fight we knew would be dangerous....but worth the risk based on the good that would come out of it.

Anyone back home who thinks the world is a safe place needs to come here for a day and learn real fast that there are an awful lot of people out there who hate Americans so much that they risk their lives to try to kill us. We cannot live peacefully back at home right now unless we continue to stay on the offensive against our enemies and fight them in their backyards. Remember, radical Arabs started this war...and they continue to fight it, proving to America over and over that they need to be fought.

I am hopeful that most Americans understand that you have to accept death to defeat evil; all of us soldiers accepted that the day we signed up.There are some things worth fighting and dying for, and making the world and especially America, a safer place, is one of them. For every Mom out there that you read about who turns into a peace protestor when her son is killed in action, there are 99 Moms you don't hear about who are proud and believe in this mission even more.

It sure is good to be back to Taji after our second "field trip." We have an officers vs. enlisted football game tomorrow where I am the quarterback, so I am excited about that. We also have a Task Force Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Despite the fact we have upcoming Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years away from family, friends, and fun- all of our soldiers are thankful to be back after this big fight and to have played such an important role in the successful mission.

I received some nice letters out there that were very supportive, so thank you to all of you who did that for me. Thanks for all your prayers and support, and I wish everyone back home a Happy Thanksgiving and some quality time spent with family and friends.


And Don't Forget

Eric will be discussing our Desert Sky documentary on Dayside with Linda Vester (FOX News Channel) at 1 pm Monday the 29th. Watch it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Desert Sky to be Featured on FOX News!

This UPDATED report just in from Eric the Director:

False alarm but a better solution:

FOX NEWS couldn't get a reliable satellite feed from Tucson to support me being on the show so they asked me to shift to Monday 29NOV.

This works even better because I will actually be in Massachusetts where I can drive a few hours south and be in the FOX studios in NY!

OR I'll do a satellite feed from Albany, NY or Pittsfield, MA. Either way, we're looking good for Monday.

I will know more on Friday when I call them.

Sorry to get everyone spooled up on this only to shut it down for the day.

In addition, I've spoken with a few professionals in the entertainment industry who feel that featuring Desert Sky on FOX's Dayside with Linda Vester will pretty much pave the way for a distributor... not that they'll come beating down my door but we'll have some credibility to bank on.

I will put out another update on Friday after I call Michelle the producer to finalize details.

Eric Simon
Desert Sky

This also gives us more time to get the word out. Please circulate this (new) news by any means available. Our little docu-project is about to get a national audience.

Make sure you watch Dayside on Monday (at 1 p.m. Eastern)...

Joining the Cause

Due to popular demand- I joined the very worthwhile Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge (you'll notice the nifty button to your left). If you click on it, you'll find out what it's all about. I'm proud to be a member of Little Green Football's Lizardoid Nation Team. The great people of Iraq appreciate your help...

Another Plug

Remember the book I mentioned last Friday- by Eric T. Holmes? Well, I just got an update from him as well-


Remember contributing to the Iraq book? It's right now being released.

For the new book Iraq: Providing Hope, right now I'm on:

Walter Platz Show in Ogden and Salt Lake City KLO 7:05 - 7:30 (MT) Wed Nov 24

Tony Gill Show in Boston and Springfield WAIC 3:25-3:55 (ET) Wed Nov 24

Martha Zoller Show in Atlanta WDUN 550 AM 11:00-11:20 (ET) Wed Nov 24

Lars Larson Show from Portland (and into 82 total cities nationwide) KXL 750 AM Portland 10:45-10:55 (PT) Wed 1 Dec (includes San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Austin, Atlanta, St Louis, Kansas City, Jackson MS, and many

Ernie Brown Show from Las Vegas, Salem Radio Network 100+ markets 10:00-11:00 PM (MT) Wed Dec 1


Good stuff- please spread the word about the book as well. Here's the early scoop on it:

IRAQ: PROVIDING HOPE written by Eric Holmes

Personal stories from 50 people activly involved in freeing and rebuilding a new Iraq.

Please contact Timberwolf Press for more information and to pre-order.

Call office toll free to order: 888-808-0912 Or email information to:

And Finally

Back to actual blogging after the Thanksgiving Holiday- you guys need a break from me! Have a GREAT long weekend- and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Iraqi Speaks Out

In case you missed it, I got my first Iraqi comment the other day. It was from a smart and talented Iraqi blogger who calls himself Ibn-Alrafidain (Son of the Two Rivers). He's a wonderful writer, and with his words he reminds me of the many great Iraqis I met while I was up there. I especially like this post called Salute to the US People:

GWB is chosen for a second term as a president by the AMERICAN PEOPLE. As an Iraqi, I want to say thank you to (Al-Hurra) satellite TV. It covered the whole event and managed to show us, Iraqis and Arabs, a new horizon in life. Though occupation is something abhorrent, but there are some benefits. One of these is to be free in receiving a wide range of information. Showing the election to the Iraqis may have a positive effect on them. To learn from other people is a great experience. I think what we need here in Iraq, as people, is more than just watching and admiring what the others doing. We have to learn how to be interactive with other nations. I believe that we need an (educational rehabilitation) after what we had gone through for the past four decades.

Salute to the American people for adoring freedom and justice.

I like this post because it helps me answer a question that I am constantly asked by fellow Americans- even today. "Do they want us over there?" My answer is always, "Of course not! Not with weapons and body armor on!" And we don't want to be there either- not under the present circumstances. Most Iraqis are quick to point out that they are glad Saddam is gone, they appreciate what we've done, and although they wish for the occupation to end soonest- they would love for us all to come back as tourists- and that they'd be honored to welcome us as guests in their homes.

They want us carrying cameras and souvenirs- not guns and hand cuffs.

They want to see us wearing khakis and Izods- not DCU's and body armor.

Who can blame them for this? I join them in hoping that it happens sooner than later.

It's important to note that most Iraqis (Ibn included) understand the necessity of the occupation- and they are smart enough to realize that the insurgents are doing more to prolong it than anything else. This is why you see so many Iraqis volunteering for the police force. They hate the violence, and they want to (at long last) enjoy their newfound freedom.

Ibn mentions that he wishes progress would speed along faster. I'm with him on that. All of us wish that Iraq could be "rehabilitated" in a day. Unfortunately, the damage caused by 30+ years under a brutal and oppressive totalitarian government takes a long time to fix. We Americans are doing our best to put a band-aid on it. Great Iraqis like Ibn will have to heal the wounds completely. My feeling is that progress will speed up significantly after the elections. I could be wrong, but it's what I believe.

I'd like to use Ibn's own words to point out why I think he's courageous and forward-leaning among his people:

The crimes committed by Saddam's closest assistants against the Iraqi people, many are filmed, had never been spoken about. No one dared to raise a voice to demand a trail because of fear.

And the same fear is used nowadays by the insurgents to keep mouths shut.

A society which can not enforce law should admit it and ask for help. I can say that the silenced Iraqi majority to develop a better society.

And you are helping them, Ibn. Thanks for that. Check out his blog- it's well worth a look.

Bye Bye Dan

Dan says, "I have always been and remain a `hard news' investigative reporter at heart. I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full time." (emphasis added)

Um...did he mean "hard to believe news?" Don't let the doorknob hit ya...

Babil Offensive

For the best coverage of the just-launched offensive in North Babil- check out the Belmont Club's comprehensive round up (thanks Chester). One of the best ways to counter an enemy's planned upcoming offensive- is to keep them on defense. Right now, the enemy is very much on the defensive. I would imagine it will stay that way for quite a while.

I was in Iskandariya (which is in the North Babil Province) for about a month last year (March-April). Lots of sandstorms. Miserable. That's about all I remember.

Admin Note

In case you haven't noticed- I replaced all the comments (minus websites and email addresses) that Haloscan killed when I installed it. I had them all autoforwarded by email, so I just went back and reentered them manually. Had the day off yesterday, and it only took about an hour!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Election Day Part Deaux

The push toward election day has begun, and that's a two way push. The insurgents are likely to start fighting not just for their own survival (for which they don't seem to be all that concerned about), but for the survival of their movement- the jihad and all it's trimmings. Fallujah may not have "broken their backs," but it hurt them. A lot. I expect a sloppy, poorly-organized crescendo of violence leading up to the end of January. It's a tough road ahead for our brave warriors over there, but the operation in Fallujah ensured that it should be less lethal than it otherwise would have been. Do not lose faith if the election is postponed. They postponed it in Afghanistan- and it was one of the best strategic decisions in the War on Terror thus far.

And Speaking of Afghanistan

Heard anything out of Afghanistan lately? Wonder why that is?

Remember how that was going to be a "repeat of the Soviet disaster" of the 70's and 80's? Well- most people don't know this, but the only reason they whipped up on the Russians like that was because Rambo was flown in to help them out. I'm serious, I saw the movie. Sly Stallone fought alongside Osama bin Laden and the rest of the anti-communist mujahadeen. He even dedicated the movie to them. And he had a really bad 80's mullet.

But seriously folks, I saw in some left-leaning blog (can't remember which one- but I believe the post was titled "Failure of Afghanistan")- a long rant about how Afghanistan has been overtaken by a "drug epidemic." Claimed they were making tons of opium over there! Can you imagine the horror? I mean, especially because we don't have any issues with drugs in the U.S. And Mexico is like one big anti-drug.

Wouldn't it have been great if opium had been the biggest problem in Afghanistan before 9/11?

Mosul vs. Bad Guys

I've been catching up on the current status of Fallujah, Mosul, and the rest. I don't really know anything more than you all know at this point. I can tell you that the people of Mosul aren't letting me down. I talked them up quite a bit in recent months, and they're giving me reason to keep believing in them. One thing they always used to tell me- "Don't be fooled- those car bombers and suicide bombers are not Iraqis! We don't do that sort of thing. It's foreigners! Iraqi's don't do that, and we think it's despicable."

They were always so outraged about the violence that was constantly flaring up in the Sunni Triangle. Well, it seems that many of those violently misguided morons from that ill-fated triangle are finding their way to Mosul. I believe the people will prevail. Don't get me wrong, it may get ugly. It's likely to get worse up there before it gets better (especially as election day approaches), but I give the insurgents zero chance in Mosul. They're barking up a very bad tree up there. Mosul could end up being the "back breaker." We'll see...

Oil for Food?

Why are we still calling it the "Oil for Food" Scandal? Isn't it fairly obvious now that "food" really wasn't much of a player in this racket? Why not call it the "Oil for Fraud" Scandal? Or how about "Oil for France?" I've said it before- if you're not familiar with this unbelievable scandal, then you are not qualified to debate the legitimacy of the War in Iraq. As it turns out, our friend The Commissar (the genius behind The Politburo Diktat) has a side project that I just found out about- it's a one-stop shop to get all the information you'll ever need about the Oil for Fascism Scandal. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you- Friends of Saddam.

My Last Word on the Fallujah Incident

Sure there were probably some "rogue" MSM blowhards who tried to Abu Ghraibicize this thing- but I think (hope) that the majority of the media kept it fair. I hear Bill O'Reilly was a big watchdog during the whole thing- good job, Bill. In any case, it seems to be dying down quite a bit. Maybe it's the basketball fight or maybe the media is actually starting to "get it." Okay, you're right- it's the basketball fight.

Here's an interesting related piece from everyone's favorite small town veteran- Of Unsung Heroes and Split-second Decisions. Of Mo Duc and Fallujah. Of Soldiers and Marines and Killing or Dying. Of Kevin Sites and a Camera. Of Doing The Right Thing. Click here.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

What's Next For Fallujah?

This simple answer to this question can be found by looking at the current state of affairs in Samarra, Najaf, and Sadr City. Oh, I'm sorry- the press isn't telling you anything about that. Well, the short story is that our forces are steadily working on financing and supervising reconstruction projects- employing a substantial Iraqi work force and getting the towns back on their feet. Newly trained Iraqi cops provide security and protection, and US forces just sort of monitor the situation and help where they're needed. This is what we in the business call an "exit strategy."

While this is a relatively new concept for insurgent strongholds, it's old hat for long-time areas of relative stability like Mosul and Basra. When I was in Mosul last year, we didn't have a substantial insurgent threat to prevent us from moving the city forward. There's a guy named Eric T. Holmes (here's your plug, Eric) who's writing a book about this sort of thing. He asked me to contribute and I gladly obliged. So here's an excerpt for your weekend reading enjoyment:


I think the winning idea for “The Blinding Flash of the Obvious” goes to the 101st Infantry Division. In the course of combat operations and searching for weapon caches the 101st came across large amounts of Ba’athist cash. They immediately turned right around and spent the money in the local economy for humanitarian efforts. During 2003 they seized and spent $178 million. Other units are now continuing the program.

“1st CAV forces are currently employing 1,000 people alone in Sadr City, and this is only one of the many projects throughout the city,” Brigadier General Kimmit told the press during a briefing on 30 April 2004.

Captain 2Slick served with the 101st in Mosul during the first year of the war. He’s a Black Hawk pilot by trade, who personally spent $2.7 million in support of higher education in Mosul. After serving with his unit in Iraq, 2Slick is now serving in Kuwait. “I honestly believe that we are losing the information campaign here. As soldiers fighting this war, we have an obligation to get the word out about what's really going on over here.” Below is 2Slick’s description of the program.

"Here's how it worked. About one week after we (the 101st) arrived in Mosul (approx. May 8th), every major subordinate command in the 101st (including mine, of course) received an order to report to Finance Headquarters, draw $10,000 US cash (seized assets recovered from the old regime) and go out and spend it. There were rules and guidelines- no single purchase over the amount of $2,000. Any expenditure must benefit the Iraqi people only, and may not result in any kind benefit to Coalition Forces whatsoever. No spending on entertainment for the Iraqis. Other than that, it was pretty much go out there and spend. I was selected to be my brigade's project manager because of my experience handling budgets and my history of successfuly dealing with Iraqis.

I first went to a Civil Affairs guy who lived in the tent next to mine, and asked him if he had any good tips. He told me that the University had been severely looted, and that they could use some help with ADP products (monitors, disk drives, etc.). We went to the University, worked out the arrangements, made some connections, and delivered the products the next day. The purchase was simple- we went to a computer store across the street from the university, worked out a deal, and had them deliver the goods at the agreed time and place, at which time we paid them. We repeated this often. After our first purchase for the university we still had $8,000, so we stopped at a primary school and asked them how we could be of assistance. They were very happy to see us, and we communicated through our interpreter. We worked out a deal to get them school supplies, new school desks, chalkboards, etc.

When our $10,000 ran out, we drew more and repeated the process. Every other major subordinate command in the 101st did the same thing we did. This continued for about 3 weeks.

Once it became obvious that this operation was working, Division Headquarters decided to step things up. We were soon authorized to draw $250,000 at a time (usually about one draw every two weeks- and the maximum withdrawal amount continued to grow), and spend up to $10,000 on a single purchase (more if we obtained the CG's approval).

MG Petraeus (the CG) then decided to split up responsibilities, to avoid duplicating our efforts. My brigade (the 159th AVN BDE) was told to focus on the University, since we had already built up a habitual relationship with them. Our umbrella of responsibility soon began to include all Higher Education through out Mosul (the University, 3 technical schools, and 1 private school). My brand new Brigade Commander, COL Harrison, arrived at about this time (mid-June). At COL Harrison's in brief, the CG told him that Higher Education in Mosul was our #1 priority, not flying helicopters (we had 102 Black Hawks and 34 Chinooks). COL H ordered me to put together about 30 teams, each led by officers from within the brigade, to increase the work effort. Each team had a specific responsibility, i.e. one team was in charge of the Medical College, another was in charge of the Library, another took on the College of Science, etc.

Each team would go out twice a week, arrange projects with their Iraqi counterpart (usually a Dean or a professor), and I would make the payments as required. We held weekly meetings where teams would submit their project requests, and I would prioritize them and approve them based on the amount of money I had left to spend. When I drew more money, I'd approve more projects, get bids on the contracts, hire labor forces, etc. We continued on like this until we left in January of '04. Other units within the 101st did the same thing, but within their own areas of responsibility. The Artillery BDE was in charge of rebuilding security, the Support Brigade was in charge of Lower Education (schools for kids), the 2nd Infantry Brigade was in charge of rebuilding buildings and industries within the City of Mosul, etc. This is how we implemented what came to be known as the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP).

Of course, with each trip to the University (or occasional primary school), we were required to travel in groups of at least 9 soldiers (fully armed and fully equipped), traveling in at least 3 humvees (the trail humvees had to include a crew-served weapon), and we maintained constant 2-way radio contact with headquarters. We left our base at the airfield almost every day, and we were only attacked once. A disgruntled student threw a grenade under one of our trucks while we were leaving a parking lot at the College of Math. The blast resulted in 2 minor injuries to soldiers and minor damage to the humvee. The perpetrator escaped. We believe he was a foreign student on a Ba'ath Party scholarship that was (obviously) about to expire.

We actually used some money to compensate victims of fatalities. The Dean of Political Science, Dr. Abdul-Jabar Mustaffa, was abducted and murdered by insurgents hours after I met with him and spent $10,000 at his college. We gave his surviving widow, two twin daughters, and son a "sympathy" payment, which was authorized. We had to do this a few other times when University-affiliated personnel were either murdered or caught in crossfire. It was always a sad event.

When it was all over, I had spent over $2.7 million, mostly on the University. I'm told that other Division's throughout Iraq followed our model, since we had so much success with it. As far as I know, CERP is still ongoing."

End of excerpt.

So there you have it- a little anecdote that might shed some light on what's to come in Fallujah. Our friend, RWSparkle, recently posted something about a soldier who's already doing this sort of thing in Fallujah- and it got me thinking about this- thanks for the idea.

And For the Record

The Iraqis that we helped and worked with were some of the nicest, most thoughtful people I've ever met. But don't take my word for it- see for yourself:

Email from a retired Iraqi Air Force General who used to work directly for Saddam- not by choice- Saddam's henchmen murdered his brother in front of his wife and 4 children for "suspected treason":

Dear sir,

How are you, I wish you nice day, I hope you spend good time back at home, I am happy that you are at home safe, I miss you and miss your company, You are good freind of mine, Here in MOSUL nothing change ( same, same ) . I like to hear a good news about you .



Email from the same guy (sent last July 4th):




Here's one of about 50 emails from one of the phone-system repair contractors I hired (I like this one- it's kinda funny):

Hi 2Slick!!!

At last 2Slick send to me e-mail I cant believe it , I didn’t went to internet coffee from one month passed because I was very busy & sick in the same time , so I read your letter very late .

Before two week I went to the airport ((I have business there)) and I asked about you they tried to call you but say you leave alrady I forgot. BUT I met a beautiful Capt. there her name is Allison , I hope you can work with her in the same group if you do that I will join the U.S army and work with you.

Not sure what he's saying there, but it's funny. Same guy sent me this while I was (obviously) still in Iraq:

where are you? I am very happy to the news about saddam .I want to know the e.mail of the officer how catch saddam to send to him a letter to thank him. I wish to here good news from you

s a n

Email from the Mosul U Dean of Medicine (his wife made my fiance a dress):

dear 2Slick thank you for your letter and it is good to back ot home safe and we wish to be happy with her locking to hear from you in near future Dr. S

From my interpretor:

Dear Capt.: How are you doing Sir?I hope you are enjoing your time.How is everything, are you doing well at home.You didn't tell me anything about your marriage project? Don't say you posponed it. I am waiting to hear from you. How is life with you? I miss you too much. Thank you for this E-mail. keep in touch,please and take care.



I've got tons of 'em. I posted these because I wanted you to see what some of the 95% of the Iraqis who don't get any news coverage are saying. Have a great weekend- I'll be back Monday...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Public Service Announcement

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Umm...thanks, Mr. Haloscan. Nice "auto-post." Yes, I went ahead and installed Haloscan, because I just think it's a better service than what Blogger comes installed with. And let's face it- you can't be considered a legit blogger if you don't use trackbacks. And I just figured out how to use trackbacks, so I'm on my way to the big time.

The downside (and I apologize to all you great commenteers out there) is that all my previous comments have been erased. Eradicated as if they were never there. Kinda sad, because most of them were just so dang flattering! Well, maybe it's for the best- can't afford to have an inflated ego in this profession. Anyway, thanks for all the great comments- sorry I had to discard them like that...

Also, thanks to Robert in NYC for suggesting syndication. I had no clue what that was, but he provided a link, and I made myself smart about it. So now anyone can have 2Slick's Forum delivered straight to their homepage- free of charge! If you'd like to learn how, click on this link.

Been a long night- everyone have a great weekend!

All Nighter

Looks like I'll be working all night tonight, so I'll have to make this quick.

I want to talk about this story. It's a good one. Maybe the AP felt bad after I brought the hammer down on them yesterday. The story actually covers the most important information first (despite the fact that it highlights our progress), and saves the "Al-Jazeera talking points" for last. This seems to be a new approach for the AP. Who knows, maybe I really did hurt their feelings...

First, let's start with the opening:

Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. soldiers, stormed one of the major Sunni Muslim mosques in Baghdad after Friday prayers, opening fire and killing at least three people, witnesses said. In the battle for control of Mosul, Iraqi forces raided several areas overnight, killing 15 insurgents, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

About 40 people were arrested at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the capital's northwestern Azamiyah neighborhood, said the witnesses, who were members of the congregation. Another five people were wounded.

It appeared the raid at Abu Hanifa mosque, long associated with anti-American activity, was part of the crackdown on Sunni clerical militants launched in parallel with military operations against the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

Nice work. These guys have been asking for a smackdown for a long time. They're finally getting it.

Remember when I talked about the good people of Mosul and their propensity to turn insurgents into money? Allow me to present Exhibit "A":

At least 13 other insurgents were captured in Mosul, authorities said.

and Exhibit "B":

In western Mosul, Iraqi National Guard and a special police force raided several areas Thursday night, killing 15 insurgents and capturing 10 others, Deputy Gov. Khasro Gouran said.

The raid on the al-Zaharawi hospital in Mosul - Iraq's third-largest city - was conducted by Iraqi commandos with the Ministry of the Interior's Special Police Force, backed by U.S. troops.
Forces cordoned it off after getting information that insurgents were treating their wounded there, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings with Task Force Olympia.

Well, that didn't take very long. It also looks like I was right about the rapid mobilization of LTG Petraeus' Iraqi Sooper Troopers. These guys are looking more compitent and confident every day. That's a very good sign. And it gets better:

U.S. and Iraqi forces began a major military operation Tuesday to wrest control of Mosul after gunmen last week attacked police stations, bridges and political offices in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas. On Friday, three of the city's five bridges were reopened to traffic and most of the city remained calm, though U.S. forces came under some "indirect fire" that caused no injuries, Hastings said.

Yep- this sounds like the Mosul I remember.

What about Zarqawi? How's he feeling about all this? Probably not so good. Especially when he finds out about this:

Inside the house, an imposing structure with concrete columns, U.S. soldiers found documents, old computers, notebooks, photographs and copies of the Quran. Several bodies also were found.

Yeah, he's not going to like that.

Yesterday, I highlighted this now-famous quote from last week, "The U.S. military said on Thursday this week's Falluja offensive would not shatter Iraq's insurgency."

But now we get this from Lt. Gen. John Sattler:

"We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency."

That's a FLIP-FLOP!!!! Okay, he's not running for President so we'll give him a pass. Besides, I have to agree with the good General. Things are not looking good for the bad guys right now. This flurry of real news has apparently buried the "Marine on tape" story or at least pushed it to the far back burner. I'm not finding anything about it in cyberspace. That's usually a good sign, so I'm going to leave it alone for now. We'll see how the press handles the weekend off-cycle. They have LOTS of news to choose from- we'll see what they highlight and what they leave alone. Let me know how it goes...

159th Movie Update

This just in from Eric the Director. Seems that our film is on hold for now. Not to worry- it will get out there. I know this because we are on a mission, and we don't accept failure as an option. The good news is that the film is complete- read on:

Hello Everyone,

Of all the big plans we had for Desert Sky to be available at the end of November... I'm afraid they will not happen. We've discovered that the distributing process for getting the film available on-line has opened a Pandora's Box of legal issues and contractual nuances which have brought us to a halt - FOR THE TIME BEING. We are hesitantly looking into independently distributing the film (imagine my Executive Producer's living room with boxes to the ceiling) but the process for receiving payment (e-commerce) and fulfilling orders could be a 2 month process before anyone had the DVD in their hands. We could possibly have a distributor by then and have it on-line at or for a much broader audience. This decision process is what we are in the middle of, right now.

A big factor in not necessarily wanting to independently distribute the film, and instead, use an industry distributor is because they can maximize potential for the film's sale and ultimately increase contributions to the scholarship funds it will benefit. We here at Wide Open Films all have day-jobs that already support us so we're not in it for the profit. So far, I've estimated all the man-hours contributed to the film has exceeded $60,000 ($100,000 if done in Los Angeles/Hollywood) in value. Everyone on the production team has contributed pro-bono with the foreknowledge that the film may never earn enough to compensate them for their time. I've been humbled by how much they believe in this project to sacrifice so much.

Like I said in the October update... "We haven't gone this far just to watch it slip into anonymity" I'm traveling to the east coast next week to screen the film in New England and be a guest on Bob Wolf's radio talk show (Albany's WPYX Classic Rock). Thanks to my friend Anna Saldo for setting it up. In December we hope to conduct private screenings of Desert Sky in Tucson, Los Angeles and Phoenix to help promote the film to would-be distributors and supporters. The Public Affairs office at Fort Rucker has also offered to host a screening as well. Fort Rucker is the home of Army Aviation and the current station for many former members (and family) of the 159th to include my old boss Colonel Bill Forrester.

On the brighter side, THE FILM IS COMPLETE. Jimmy Dunn's score to the film is fantastic! Late last week I laid the music down in the film and burned some preliminary DVD copies of the final cut and sent them to various media representatives across the U.S. for their review.

Bottom line: The ball is still rolling, we are working hard to get the film out, but I have to take back what I said about a November release and do as my Grandma Tutu once said, " crow". Please accept my apologies for the delay. Enjoy your holidays and expect another update around the end of December. We hope to have hooked a distributor by then... but I can't promise nuthin'

Eric Simon
Desert Sky

If anyone knows anything or anyone that has anything to do with distributing please contact Eric (see website for contact info)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Mosul Again

One key piece that I left out of the Mosul situation yesterday- the need for police overhaul. As you'll recall from one of my postings a few weeks ago, police overhaul in Mosul was already on the schedule anyway. I would anticipate a slightly more rapid mobilization, and I can tell you that there are things being done right now in order to fix the cop situation- but that's about all I can say about that right now.

These cops need to succeed. As I've written on many occasions- Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi- these places are important, but they're not the center of gravity. The success of our mission in Iraq hinges on LTG Petraeus' ability to churn out well-trained Iraqi Sooper Troopers. Everything else we do is an effort to support that critical mission. Which leads me to my next point...

AP Does It Again

Looks like our friends at the AP (Al-Jazeera Press?) have concocted another phony load of garbage to feed the good people of America. This one from the mighty pen of factually-challenged journalist Hamza Hendawi. Observe:

The recapture of Fallujah has not broken the insurgents' will to fight and may not pay the big dividend U.S. planners had hoped...

Looks like Hendawi doesn't realize that his new story was debunked a week before he even wrote it (NOV 11th- "The U.S. military said on Thursday this week's Falluja offensive would not shatter Iraq's insurgency."). However, it quickly becomes apparent that al-Hendawi wants to put some spin on this misinterpretation of last week's news in an effort to present us with something absolutely ridiculous!

Instead, the battle for control of the Sunni city 40 miles west of Baghdad has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency.

Oh yes, of course that's the case! The insurgents have lost their stronghold, their command and control has been shattered, they're fleeing to Mosul (where insurgents go to die), Samarra and Fallujah are now "reconstruction zones" where Iraqis get paid to work on reconstruction projects, Ramadan came and went without their much-ballyhood "mother of all uprisings"- but the insurgency is better off now than it ever was! Brilliant logic! And here's the best part- ready for this? This is the hammer of the argument- the one thing that PROVES the premise of this utterly bogus story beyond any reasonable doubt. Here goes:

Those grim assessments, expressed privately by some U.S. military officials and by some private experts on Iraq, raise doubts as to whether the January election will produce a government with sufficient legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the country's powerful Sunni Muslim minority.

So there you have it folks! The insurgents are winning handily in Iraq right now, because Hamza Hendawi said so!

The AP is a joke. Pure and simple.

What Happened to the Fallujah Incident?

I was all set and ready to launch an all out offensive against the MSM about this thing, and now I'm not seeing it anywhere on the headlines. I don't have access to TV over here, so please let me know if they're starting to (finally) back off. Cyberspace seems to have cooled on it significantly, possibly because of our friend Bill Faith's recent Instalanche at Small Town Veteran. I'll stay tooned...

I Agree With Howard Dean?

Don't have a heart attack- it's not what you think. This will probably be the only time in my life that I'll ever agree with Howard Dean about anything. The legendary screamer recently blasted the media at a Yale symposium:

"The media is a failing institution in this country," Dean said. "They are not maintaining their responsibility to maintain democracy."

Dean said these networks aim to entertain because "entertainment sells better than news."

"The media is trained to get the entertainment value and screw the facts," he said.


Excuse me. That's a very good point you raise there, Mr. ScreamDean. Although I must point out that I said those things way before you did- October 28th to be exact. Does that mean I could be the Governor of Vermont?

And just so nobody gets the wrong idea- I still disagree with him about most things, including what he said about Fox:

The television networks, especially Fox News, are most to blame for the increased focus in journalism on flash and entertainment, Dean said.

Well, that's where you're wrong, sir. Failure to jump on the liberally-biased bandwagon does not equate to bad journalism. Nice try, though.

Worried About Iran?

Yes, it look like Iran is really going after some nukes. But fear not! Black5 has just revealed his plan for an exit strategy for Iraq AND Afghanistan...

Bcus a Dad!!!!

Longtime Forum members will recall Bcus as my war buddy, fellow Black Hawk Driver, and frequent commenteer. He and his wife welcomed a beautiful healthy baby girl yesterday. Congrats Bcus and family!!

I've seen her picture, and I'm telling you- she looks like a future Black Hawk Pilot!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Road to Mosul

So here's what I know about Mosul. Mosul went down without a fight during the original invasion. The Iraqi 5th Corps, which was based just northwest of Mosul Airfield, simply melted away into their homes. The senior leadership skipped town along with the other high-level Ba'athist bigwigs. Tanks and vehicles were literally left scattered all over town- empty and useless.

As soon as the city was void of any law-enforcement authorities, the Peshmerga (Kurdish troops) came down and exacted "revenge" (Kurdish country lies mostly north and east of Mosul- only about one hour away by car). It was ugly. The Kurds looted and pillaged and unleashed years of pent up aggression on the mostly-Sunni city. Remember that Saddam's Sunni regime slaughtered 180,000 Kurds during their reign of terror. The Kurdish Militia came to Mosul with a vengeance. The mayhem lasted for almost two weeks- until Marines and elements of 4th ID came in and sent the Kurds back home. The Sunnis in Mosul were initially outraged with the US forces- blaming them for allowing the Peshmergs to have free reign in the city for all that time. You may recall an incident where a demonstration got out of control and some Marines shot a bunch of civilians.

After about 3 weeks, the 101st Airborne (including yours truly) came up from Baghdad and relieved the Marines and 4th ID. We stayed there for about 9 months before being replaced by a much smaller force- a "Multi-National" Division, which was really just a souped-up Stryker Brigade out of Fort Lewis. A lethal force to be sure- but nothing even close to the size of an entire light infantry division. I believe that decision was made because things were relatively stable in Mosul during that time. The government was functioning well enough. We had constant mortar attacks at the airfield, but they never hit anything. We had our share of car bombs and roadside bombs, but nothing like the Sunni Triangle. I think the top brass just decided to mass forces in the Sunni Triangle and hope that Mosul would continue to progress steadily towards stability.

My feeling is that we squeezed some terrorists out of the Sunni Triangle, and many of them fled north hoping to set up shop. I think they've been stirring things up and trying to turn the tide of public opinion against the current government using propaganda tactics as well as exposing corruption (yes, corrupt politicians are everywhere). Many city government officials have been assassinated during the past couple months. Recent reports indicate that Zarqawi might be in town. As I've said before, I think he'd be making a terrible mistake by coming to Mosul. My feeling is that the insurgency was in the beginning stages of setting up operations in Mosul, and that they were hoping things would drag out for much longer in Fallujah. Didn't happen. Fallujah's now transitioning to SASO (Stability and Support Ops), and the offensive in Mosul has already begun.

I anticipate a relatively quick and lethal smackdown by the Coalition Forces, and if Zarqawi is indeed hiding out there- I think he'll turn up (while a citizen of Mosul will suddenly find himself and his family sitting on the beach in Malibu wondering what to do with $25 million). Don't get me wrong- the road ahead will be tough, but the good guys will continue to prevail.

The Fallujah Incident

The good people at SGT Stryker's Daily Brief liked what I had to say on the matter (thanks El Gato), but I must humbly defer to Matt Heidt (former SEAL) at Froggy Ruminations- he says it way better than I ever could:

Here is your situation Marine. You just took fire from unlawful combatants shooting from a religious building attempting to use the sanctuary status of their position as protection. But you're in Fallujah now, and the Marine Corps has decided that they're not playing that game this time. That was Najaf. So you set the mosque on fire and you hose down the terrorists with small arms, launch some AT-4s (Rockets), some 40MM grenades into the building and things quiet down. So you run over there, and find some tangos wounded and pretending to be dead. You are aware that suicide martyrdom is like really popular with these kind of idiots, and like taking some Marines with them would be really cool. So you can either risk your life and your fireteam's lives by having them cover you while you bend down and search a guy that you think is pretending to be dead for some reason. Also, you don't know who or what is in the next room, and you're already speaking english to each other and its loud because your hearing is poor from shooting people for several days. So you know that there are many other rooms to enter, and that if anyone is still alive in those rooms, they know that Americans are in the mosque. Meanwhile (3 seconds later), you still have this terrorist that was just shooting at you from a mosque playing possum. What do you do?

Read the entire post here.

The Quiet Shaping of Iraq's Future

Brett McGurk is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, and since returning from Baghdad, he's been feeling exactly what I felt upon my return from Mosul. I read his article in the Philly Enquirer, and I had to remind myself that someone else had written this- not me:

For eight months, I served as a legal adviser in Baghdad, first with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then with the new U.S. Embassy. Now, I am home in Washington, and it feels like another planet.

The startling contrast is not the welcome drop in temperature, or sleeping soundly without fear of falling mortar rounds. Rather, it is the stateside conversation about Iraq; conversation that fails to appreciate the historical significance of what's taking place there.

Over eight months, I observed Iraqis overcome years of division to create an interim constitution that enshrines individual rights and strives to resolve the false tension between Islam and democracy.

I saw colleagues from the United Nations and Iraqis of the new Independent Electoral Commission plan for nationwide elections to define Iraq's future. And I witnessed the first laws of the new Iraqi government emerge from a process of tedious drafting to ensure compliance with a new bill of rights and international law.

Alas, most Americans see none of this and know nothing about Iraq beyond the daily media offering of televised violence and chaos. This is unfortunate, because the only way Iraq can fail is for the United States and its allies to pull out, leaving Iraq to return to violence rather than the rule of law.

Thanks, Brett- for describing exactly what I noticed during my 6 months between tours. Read the whole article.

Don't get me wrong- I was treated well. My fellow troops and I enjoyed a nice homecoming from a grateful nation. We just couldn't believe the narrow focus and complete lack of perspective from the "big" media. Even those poor guys at Fox would be covering a car bombing or mortar attack, and they'd be saying stuff like "we hate that we're always having to cover stuff like this instead of all the progress that's going on." It's just sad, really. And for all you Iraq Vets out there- this is why we need to call radio shows, write to newspapers, and blog our hearts out...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What It's All About

Today while I was doing my "real job" out in this barren wasteland, I had some time to reflect on the weirdness of the past couple days. I've said it before- sometimes I think I get too bogged down in politics, the MSM, or whatever. I had to once again remind myself that this blog was never meant to be about me, rogue news personalities, or anyone else. This blog is about our brave soldiers who are out there fighting the good fight. Some think it's kind of crazy for me to say this, because they insist that I am one of those soldiers out there "fighting the good fight." Well, as a staff officer in Kuwait, it's not really like that. Sure, I was in Iraq. But now I'm sort of in a "supporting role"- and I guess I'm just taking that supporting role a little further than what's "required." But enough about me. The most important things will always come first...

One of the best ways we can honor those brave heroes who have sacrificed so much (some of whom gave their lives) is by studying and appreciating their amazing accomplishments. If we focus too much of our attention on one Marine who may or may not have been "caught on tape" or a group of misguided miscreants at Abu Ghraib, then we do the vast majority of our brave soldiers a disservice.


In the case of Fallujah, I'd recommend looking no further than this wonderfully comprehensive site at Winds of Change. Please- take some time and just pour through all that stuff. There's so much information there, you'd never be able to get through it all in one day. But it's there. So look at it, tell your friends about it, and be proud of what these heroes accomplished. I think I speak for most soldiers when I say that spending your time learning about our accomplishments is a better way of supporting us than sending us care packages (not that there's anything wrong with care packages!- you get the point).


Looks like the focus is shifting to Mosul, my old stomping grounds. Make no mistake- Mosul is not Fallujah. Mosul is an amazing city with a history that would blow your mind. Did you know that Mosul lies directly on the old Biblical province of Nineveh? Locals told me (every chance they had) that it is the oldest known city in the world. It is an amazing amalgamation (big word for the day) of Sunnis, Kurds, Assyrian Christians, and even some Jews (there used to be lots). Jonah's Tomb is right in the middle of town. Some say it used to be a Jewish Synagogue. Don't repeat that to a local Sunni Arab unless you're ready to rumble. It's a fascinating town, really. When peace finally reigns supreme in Iraq (and it will), Mosul will become an absolute gold mine for history buffs and archaeological types. Amazing sights to see there. There are many PhD-holding professors, doctors, intellectuals, etc.- many of whom were educated in Michigan, Ohio, the UK, you name it. They are going through an amazing change right now, and it sounds like things are going to get even more interesting for them. Tonight I'll try to see what I can learn about the kind of operation that's going on over there, and hopefully I'll be able to write about it tomorrow...

The Fallujah Incident

I haven't been able to learn enough about what happened yet, so I won't offer anything specific. One thing I will say is that unless you've been in that man's combat boots getting shot at, watching your buddies die, and struggling to stay alive amidst a several-day long journey into pure hell- DO NOT pass judgment on this individual. I know that the Geneva Convention forbids killing enemy combatants who are wounded and unable to pose a threat. I also know that on today's battlefield, with booby-trapped bodies, suicide vests, and an enemy who cares nothing for "rules of war"- the Geneva Convention needs to be reexamined and more specifically defined. A wounded enemy soldier can theoretically pose a significant threat if he simply has the ability to move his finger. Times are different and war is hell- let the facts come out and let the military authorities handle it. If the MSM starts to spin this into another Abu Ghraib, I will come at them with a cyberfury not yet seen. I know you will all be there with me. Call this an official warning to the MSM- keep it fair, or the blogosphere will activate the Bat Signal.

Administrative Stuff

I've been getting tons of emails and (as you can see) comments during the past couple days. I'll get to all the emails as best I can, but please understand that I do have a "real job" out here and so my time on the net is somewhat (OK- a lot) limited. Please be patient. As several commenters mentioned, my site survived (yet another) Instalaunch yesterday. Instalaunches create Instalanches. Yes, that sounds strange and it was the subject of a great number of questions...

What is an Instalaunch?

Simply put, it's when your site gets linked by Instapundit (the blog of blogs featuring the famous Glenn Reynolds- thanks Glenn- and thanks to Kate). Glenn gets thousands and thousands of hits a day, and when he links your site- watch out. You get hit with an Instalanche- thousands of his readers come flooding to your site. The first time it happened, my site shut down for a while. Last night, I was asleep during the whole thing, so I have no idea what happened. I do know that the Forum took more than 40,000 hits in a period of about 10 hours. That's a little bit more than my daily average of about 500. The comments and emails come flooding in, and all that...

Last Word on Hockenberry?

If I ever bring him up again, I hope that it will be because of something positive. Some have said that the blogosphere will eventually overtake and destroy the MSM. That may happen- who knows? The blogosphere is still in it's infancy. My hope is that they can coexist in some sort of freakish, uber-balanced, peace and harmony. Maybe I'm just a crazy optimist...


That whole ordeal was, as you may have guessed, a little much for a Black Hawk pilot who used to work at McD's. Especially since I'm still very new in the blogosphere. Thanks to all the great bloggers out there who helped me deal. You'll be filling up my blogroll shortly. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk of the incomparable Mudville Gazette for inviting me on board (I love the new MILBLOG button). Also thanks to my always-supportive and amazing group of family (afy) and friends, the long-time Forum members, all the new folks who happened by, and last but certainly not least- the "secret force" behind the Forum- helping me out and supporting me from 7,000 miles away- my beautiful and brilliant fiance- the soon-to-be Mrs. 2Slick. 6 more weeks, Sweetie!!! Love you like crazy...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hockenberry Comes Clean

OK, this was a first for me. Just try to follow along. I was surprised- no SHOCKED- to look in my inbox today and find an email from John Hockenberry entitled "white flags."

Dear 2Slick,

We have certainly gotten off on the wrong foot. I certainly didn't wish to insult you or offend your military service by missing your rank and mistakenly calling you an enlistee. I just receive so much hate mail from so many quarters being a member of the media. (we are reviled you know) I was, frankly, surprised by the tone of your remarks about Senator Kerry's war record (I ultimately think it was a bad campaign issue and had nothing to do with what kind of a president he might have been). That issues is quite moot after November 2nd. I was also taken aback by the way you lumped me in to scandals at CBS and some conspiracy to bring down George W. Bush. I have opinions like anyone else and like anyone else hate being told I'm part of a conspiracy, or ignorant, or unpatriotic or part of some profit motive for getting Kerry elected. But hey I'm a big boy. I can take it.

I just replied, perhaps stupidly, in the same tone as your original blog. I've spent lots of time on the internet. I think the internet is often not the best forum for dialogue. I can't imagine why you would want to start some campaign against me personally. I am closely following and am horrified by the tough campaign in Falluja. The discoveries of weapons and chambers of horror certainly suggest the challenges ahead for the military in Iraq. I certainly want you to stay safe and hope that you and your family can be as secure as me and mine in the future. Can we have a peace treaty? I am interested in your views and your experiences if you really want to talk. I have no interest in cutting off a source of information or perspective. If you really want to open a channel of communication I'm game. Internet road rage serves no one. I think the idea that journalists are against the military is a myth that neither of us should perpetuate. I'm deeply sorry if I have made an enemy of you. Please accept my apology.

Hey!! I really mean it. I left my real email because despite the tone of our little exchange I still respect and trust you.

Talk to you soon... maybe.

one other thing.... you should see the hatemail I get from people who think the media is actually part of the Bush administration. I've even been accused of actually helping to cause 9/11. It's a wearying blitz. You nailed me in a bad moment... but you nailed me.


Yeah no kidding, right? How often does something like THAT happen? So of course I thought about it, and he sounded sincere enough. And here's the thing- a lot of people think I'm some kind of mean-spirited hack because of the way I felt about John Kerry. Well, Kerry was a very unique case for me. I'm normally just a happy-go-lucky guy who just wants everyone to get along. So this may upset some of you out there, but here's what I wrote back:

OK, I accept your apology, and I apologize if I jumped the gun with that posting. I'd be happy to post your apology on my site. Along with some kind of endorsement for a "peace treaty." I'm not into politics of hate or grudges (John Kerry doesn't count- that's a very rare thing for me). I understand that your job must come with a significant blitz. I'd just be careful about "venting" at people like that. Being in your profession and all. I mean, I didn't mind the "sparring" really- it was just surprising to see that stuff coming from a man who is supposed to be "objective" in his reporting about war issues. Just let me know what you'd prefer. I'm always willing to bury hatchets...


To which he replied...


post away... you are a good guy... and I'm man enough to say you taught me a lesson about the downsides of venting. In the middle of a political campaign where all rhetoric and discourse seems ignited with toxic venom it sometimes gets to be too much. I'll be candid and tell you that I have reservations about U.S. long-term strategy in the Middle East. None of that bears on my respect for you or my ability to be objective about what's going on in the field. As long as we're digging to bury hatchets let's find the treasure of newfound communication. Again, stay out of harm's way and you have my prayers for a swift end to the conflicts in Iraq. Thanks for being so... human. You can tell that I certainly am... human enough to have to ask: Now how do I get this combat boot out of my own mouth?

All best


And since this is my blog, I get the last word...


No sweat. I'll post it all. If you're a better reporter because of this and I'm a better (or at least more thoughtful) soldier/blogger, then that works for me. I do admire your willingness to come forward and admit your mistake. I think a lot of people in your profession could learn a bit from you. There would certainly be fewer credibility concerns if this sort of thing happened more often in the media. I hope there was no irrepairable harm done. I'll "bury the hatchet" as best I can but I trust there may be those who will still be upset. I certainly trust you'll do your best to be as objective as possible with any future reporting (we'll be watching you!). In the meantime, do you have Jennifer Loven's email address? That's a joke...

Best to you and good luck,


So that's how it all went down (during the past 40 minutes or so). I'm sure there will be some pretty upset people out there who don't agree with how I handled this, but it's just not everyday that an award-winning Dateline guy comes at you with an olive branch. I hope most of you agree that I did the right thing. I think we both did the right thing here, but that's just me.

I hereby officially declare John Hockenberry a friend and fellow seeker of the truth. No hard feelings, John. Just treat my buddies on the battlefield fairly, OK?

Back to today's original post...

What Hath Blogs Wrought?

Sorry if the headline is trite or oft-used (I haven't seen it yet), but it really is the first thing that came to mind when I saw my Hockenberry posting start zipping through the blogosphere yesterday. Whoa. I posted an alarming email from some journalist, and all of sudden thousands and thousands of people knew all about it. The power of the blogosphere amazes me. In case you were out windsurfing this weekend, let me get you up to speed.

I was ranting about Jennifer Loven last Saturday night (a little cranky, a little tired), and I decided (as an afterthought) to support the premise of my rant with an email snippet from my new "friend"- NBC's John Hockenberry. When I came back the next morning, I saw that my site had crashed from taking thousands of hits. RW Sparkle, The Commisar, Right on Red, Outside the Beltway, Black Five, Flopping Aces, and a myriad of other sites picked up on my post. You can check my Technorati "thing" to find many more. I searched far and wide, and I only found one blog site that took a "dissenting" approach- I was more than happy to jump into a thoughtful debate. Check it out at In Search of Utopia- I really think we all made some solid points and delved further into that lingering question- whose side are these people on? I'd encourage anyone to go finish up the debate with them (they are nice people- they don't bite), but I'm just too busy with other stuff right now. The whole thing just completely reinforced my faith in the blogosphere and it's ability to foster healthy debate, generate truth, and crush the spin- and it's often extremely entertaining. Definitely a great diversion after a long day in the desert. Sorry, but TV is overrated.

The Lingering Question

I guess the whole point of the Hockenberry post was to generate a new look into an old issue- the line between biased reporting (to further a political agenda) and treason (spreading propaganda that supports our enemy). I believe there is a line there somewhere- I'm not going to pretend that I know where it is. That's for all of us to figure out. Specifically, I pointed out Jennifer Loven's obvious conflict of interest and habitually biased reporting (and how it undermines our mission). If it were one or the other, I'd let it slide. But those are two separate and unique aspects of her that just can't be coincidental. At least not from where I'm standing. Finally, I shared an email that I received from John Hockenberry that looked- well...just looked bad. Needless to say, there were some strong feelings on the subject.

My personal feeling is that the MSM is using some old "means justify the ends" tactics that worked effectively during Vietnam. I don't think those tactics are working very effectively this time around. The fact that Kerry's actions during the Vietnam era were a liability to his campaign (as opposed to an asset) tells me that America learned a valuable lesson from that time in our history (although Wizbang correctly points out that not everyone has learned). In my humble opinion, this lesson is one more thing that we can all thank our Vietnam Vets for. They stood up to some pretty unfair treatment and lived their lives honorably during the past 3 decades. They quietly showed the angry mobs that they were not cold-blooded baby-killers, but rather upstanding and courageous warriors who would continue to honor their country no matter what. They paved the way for Iraq Vets (like me) to be treated with the sort of dignity that most of us now realize they themselves deserved 30+ years ago. Their wounds may "never heal," but I'm inclined to think that most of them probably feel like they've been "vindicated," at least to some extent- especially after the recent election. John O'Neill recently said something like (heard it on a post-election Hannity show) "no group of Americans will ever be accused of being war criminals by the American people ever again," and I believe him. In any case, I greatly appreciate their service- just wanted to say that again.

America Speaks

I never meant for my last post to be some kind of "push for solidarity," but I've been absolutely overwhelmed by the reaction from you great Americans out there. Just look at the comments from my last post. I wish I could show you all the emails I received. People actually sent me pictures of their children holding up signs that said "We love you- come home safe!" I'm serious! If any of you could have been in my combat boots yesterday, I assure you- you would have been moved to tears. I shared some of the emails with my comrades, and I'm telling you they were genuinely affected by them. And truth be told- we get stuff like this ALL THE TIME. Thousands of drawings, cards, and packages. Not just from friends and family members- but also from strangers (thanks again to the "Angels" in Florida), school children, even some news reporters! Make no mistake- we live in an amazing country. There will never be another like it. Each and every day I'm out here, I'm reminded of how much our great nation is worth fighting for...

Thanks all- your unbelievable support does not go unappreciated. This is a team effort, and you are all certainly doing your part...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Enemy Within?

I just finished a long two-day mission, so forgive me if I seem a bit "curt" today.

It's about 9:00 pm (Kuwait time), and I just logged on at the Cyberstation. When I pulled up my own personalized MyYahoo! page, I saw a headline that immediately caught my eye:

Bush Paints Rosy Picture of Iraq Situation

Wow, I thought. That sounds an awful lot like:

Bush is a Big Stupid Jerk and the Iraq War is Wrong Wrong Wrong

Before I even clicked on the story to read it, a single thought crossed my mind- this is the first time in my life that I've ever looked at a headline and knew right away who the author was before even looking at the story. In fact- off hand, I probably can't think of a name of any other wire reporter in existence. But I knew her name. It's Jennifer Loven. I knew it was her because of the experience I had the last time I was so "affected" by a headline:

President Bush Twists Kerry's Words on Iraq

I'm not kidding- that was really the headline. And when I read the story, I couldn't believe what my eyes were reading:

Campaigning by bus through hotly contested Wisconsin on Friday, Bush sought to counter recently sharpened criticism by Kerry about his Iraq policies:

-He stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The line drew gasps of surprise from Bush's audience in a Racine, Wis., park. "I just strongly disagree," the president said.

But Kerry never said that. In a speech at New York University on Monday, he called Saddam "a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell." He added, "The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

Seriously. This was actually published with the AP header and everything. The headline was eventually altered to read Bush, Kerry Twisting Each Other's Words. I guess the first headline was a little too obvious. After reading that unbelievably biased and dishonest article, I immediately Googled the author's name- "Jennifer Loven." And you know what? Everything became perfectly clear. Go ahead. Try it. There's a Google box at the top of this screen. Jennifer Loven. Copy it and paste it. Don't want to? OK- here's what you would have found among the top six links:

The Pelican File - Reporter - JENNIFER LOVEN
JENNIFER LOVEN. Associated Press ... Kerry Accuses Bush of Incompetence.

Power Line: Jennifer Loven, Democratic Operative
... Jennifer Loven, Democratic Operative. Jennifer Loven, the AP reporter who wrote the absurd "President Bush Twists...

Power Line: Discussion on Jennifer Loven, Democratic Operative
Democratic advocate Jennifer Loven in this post showing her...

HOG ON ICE: Jennifer Loven, AP Stooge for Kerry
September 25, 2004. Jennifer Loven, AP Stooge for Kerry ... It was written by one Jennifer Loven. Wonder who she's going to vote for...

Joe Kelley's The Sake Of Argument: AP: We Report, We Decide, II
July 22, 2003. AP: We Report, We Decide, II. REPORT: The AP's Jennifer Loven reports on the Bush administration's attempt to defend against claims President Bush used misleading tactics to garner support for war against Iraq...

Notice a pattern here? A little further investigation reveals the following:

In Georgetown's East Village, Roger Ballentine and his wife Jennifer Loven have sold their quaint two bedroom semi- detached Federal house at 1346 29th Street, N.W.

Roger Ballentine is president of Green Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in energy and environmental issues, and was previously deputy assistant to President Clinton for environmental initiatives and chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force. He also sits on the board of directors of Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)along with actors Ed Begley, Jr. and Larry Hagman. Jennifer Loven is a reporter for the Associated Press.

See that? She's married to a former deputy assistant to President Clinton! Never would have guessed...

But I digress. Let's get back to the article that I just finished reading- Bush Paints Rosy Picture of Iraq Situation (as of 9:23 pm Kuwait time Nov 13th 2004, the headline has not yet changed). Just look at the first two paragraphs, and it's like deja vu all over again:

President Bush painted a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq, claiming significant progress Saturday in the U.S. military's battle in an insurgent stronghold.

In his weekly radio address, Bush praised the assault on Fallujah, west of Baghdad. About 80 percent of the city was said to be under U.S. control, with insurgents pushed into a narrow corner. But the battle has claimed at least 24 American lives and wounded about 170 U.S. troops, and violence has now spread to other Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq.

Wow, that sounds a lot like:

No matter what Bush says, he is a big stupid jerk for starting the Iraq War- he caused at least 24 American troops to lose their lives in the past few days and about 170 are wounded. Not only that- things are actually worse in Iraq as a result of their sacrifice!

Nice work, Jennifer.

Let's not focus on the fact that these brave Americans exterminated more than 1200 terrorists in a span of 4 days (that's unprecedented, by the way).

Let's not bring up the fact that we knew that violence would erupt throughout Iraq long before we started the offensive in Fallujah- it's called "reacting to a massive offensive" and it's a common occurrence in most wars, believe it or not.

Indeed, let's pretend that the outbreak of violence was an unexpected setback. Even better- let's portray the operation in Fallujah as a "catastrophic blunder" and let's try to trick the American people into thinking that those brave soldiers died for no reason. It's such a worthwhile lie to propagate because Bush is such a jerk!! How could the American people have been so stupid to vote him back in? Must not have lied enough in those AP stories...

The Most Amazing Realization

As I type this I'm wondering- are these reporters in the now-infamous MSM really that determined to see us fail in Iraq?

I think I had the answer 2 weeks ago, but I just failed to see it. Hold on tight, because this part may really surprise you. About 3 days before the election, I helped in a Swiftee campaign to "get the story out" about Kerry's discharge. I emailed the NY Sun article to a provided list of media outlets and I immediately forgot all about it. Until 2 days later, when I got a response. The response was from an NBC news reporter named John Hockenberry. Google his name. He's "an Emmy award-winning news correspondent. Tells his story of war zones, wheelchairs, and declarations of indepedence." Remember the part about him reporting on war zones.

He didn't like that I sent him that article, and I guess he didn't like the attached Letter to John Kerry. He said some mean things to me (and I'm a nice guy, gosh dangit!). I don't want to get into the whole exchange, as it's mostly just him insulting me and the military, and me doing my darndest against this emmy-winning thug. But here's a quick peek:

2Slick baby,

Sorry, never would have expected an officer to speak so ignorantly. I've been in Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel. Jordan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon, and Pakistan. As for being ignorant of the military, ouch, wrong about that one too. I have two relatives buried at Arlington. But hey, making blanket statements about people seems to be a real talent over there at DOD. At least you know the difference between a real threat to our nation and a bogus half dead dictator (who was once on the CIA payroll). I feel better already knowing you are out there on the front lines delirious with self righteousness. Hey, you can call me a liar but I can't compete with you guys... you're professional grade. Hope your next promotion doesn't take too long I'm really looking forward to paying you more money to protect me and my family so well. Thanks again 2Slick (the officer who is apparently embarrassed to reveal his rank)

John Hockenberry (NBC Universal)

This guy, an emmy-winner, reports on "war zones" for NBC. Does anyone have any doubts about the way this man feels about our nation's military? Read his email again. For what it's worth, I told him twice before that I was a Captain- and I'm certainly not embarrassed about my rank. If you really want to see the whole exchange, you can find it here. In any case, I ask you- whose side are these people on? I'm on my second tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I won't even pretend to know the answer. But I don't like what I'm seeing. I guess that's why I find the time to write on this blog...